Investors ready to craft new biotechs out of Pfizer's discards

While the life sciences sector in the UK is still reeling from Pfizer's decision to pull out of Sandwich and chop 2,400 researchers from its payroll, some investor groups are preparing to make lemonade out of the fresh crop of lemons. David Pinniger, manager of SV Life Sciences' International Biotechnology Trust, expects to see new biotechs emerging from the rubble at Sandwich, crafted from parts extracted from Pfizer's R&D scrap pile.

"Just last year, we created a new company focused on developing new treatments for pain--called Convergence--from the drug development candidates, patents and people discarded by GlaxoSmithKline as part of their strategic R&D review," Pinniger tells the Financial Times. For others in the investment community, Pfizer's departure simply underscores the underlying shift underway toward biotech.

Pfizer's big exit is "collateral damage to the mounting pressures facing the pharmaceutical industry on a global basis, including healthcare reforms, pricing pressures, patent expirations and high research and development attrition rates," notes Trevor Polischuk, global pharmaceutical analyst at OrbiMed Advisers.

Pfizer, of course, isn't the only big pharma company to restructure R&D. Every developer has been busily redefining which diseases it wants to focus on and how it can better balance in-house R&D work with smarter partnerships and a bigger reliance on outsourcing. And that has left programs and scientists available to entrepreneurs who can pick up where the Pfizers of the world are leaving off.

- read the story from the Financial Times